Detroit Bus Cuts: Community Coalition Files Civil Rights Complaint With Justice Department

Service Cuts Spark Civil Rights Complaint Against DDOT

A transit advocacy group announced Wednesday it will file a Title VI Civil Rights complaint against the Detroit Department of Transportation, alleging recent bus cuts came without proper notice or public hearings.

Severely short on funds, DDOT recently eliminated nighttime bus service from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. and cut service hours on 34 weekday routes and 29 weekend routes in favor of boosting service on four key routes.

The North End Woodward Community Coalition says DDOT violated federal regulations for public input at public hearings over the two rounds of service cuts.

The group alleges DDOT "failed its federal mandate to get meaningful public input before making cuts to service" and "to provide an alternative to mitigate the impact of the cuts on minority and low income populations, many of who rely solely on the bus for to get to work and school."

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin by recipients of federal funds. Violations are filed with the U.S. Department of Justice.

DDOT is seeking more than $2.4 million in federal transportation funding for the 2012 fiscal year. That means the department must hold hearings to comply with laws governing service changes.

But the coalition claims hearings on the recent service changes were scheduled in a manner that made it difficult for members of the public to attend and that translation services were not provided.

The department held public hearings on Feb. 24 on cuts to overnight service and other route changes and on April 5 on revisions to scheduled bus times.

According to DDOT's policy on public hearings, the department provides interpretive and other special services to citizens who give at least 48 hours notice.

The coalition wants DDOT to restore service and claims that the cuts leave Detroiters without an "equitable" stake in the city.

"Historically, transportation investments do not often reflect 'equality' as a core value," the coalition said. "They tend to disproportionately benefit those who are already mobile (i.e not transit-dependent) and economically comfortable while placing extra burden on the already disadvantaged."

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